Plea bargains in Colorado should not be made lightly

Plea bargains are an effective way of keeping the judicial system in Denver County from being overwhelmed but there are things that a person accused of committing a crime should consider before accepting a deal.

Recently, a man in Colorado Springs pled guilty to manslaughter and second-degree murder as part of a plea bargain arrangement according to FOX31. The man, allegedly a gang member, was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of two men at different times. The deal also lowered the amount of prison time that the man will serve. Instead of facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, he has agreed to 33 years in prison for the two crimes.

Plea bargains in Colorado

During the period of 2006 through 2011, 175,015 felony convictions took place in Colorado according to The Gazette. Only 2.4 percent of those convictions were the result of a criminal trial-the rest were obtained through plea bargains. Many people believe that this high percent is an indication of the pressure placed on people facing criminal charges to simply plead guilty in a plea bargain rather than risk leaving their future in the hands of a jury.

Here in Colorado, according to the Boulder County Bar Association, prosecutors can reduce the charges that a person faces which leads to a lower sentence or even probation. When a plea bargain is being discussed, the person's prior criminal record, the original charge and the evidence should be weighed and the person being offered the bargain should have access to legal counsel.

The positives and negatives of a plea bargain

When a person has committed a crime, a plea bargain can be a way for that person to obtain a lower sentence through admitting guilt to a lesser charge according to Frontline. A plea bargain also provides benefits to witnesses and victims of crimes, eliminating the need for them to relive the ordeal, especially in a case where a sexual assault has occurred.

However, a plea deal is far from a perfect solution. There are many potential problems that a plea bargain can cause for the person who accepts it. These include:

  • A plea deal is difficult to withdraw once it is accepted.
  • Often times, a person does not know what evidence has been collected against them and it may not be as strong as the prosecution is saying.
  • A judge in Colorado may not accept the terms of the plea deal.
  • Innocent people have been pressured into accepting plea bargains.

Considering a plea bargain is one option that a person accused of committing a crime has but there are other options as well and a person who is innocent should do everything they can to prove their innocence in a court of law. Before a person agrees to anything, they should talk to an attorney who understands the criminal justice system and can provide them with sound legal advice.